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#79 – Should You Hire Someone Or Do It Yourself?

by | Feb 3, 2024 | Business Management

Part of the beauty and curse of being a dog breeder is how dynamic it is. How many different hats in breeding there are. Let’s recap these different jobs within breeding that most breeders have to manage. I’ll just name a few:

  • Whelper
  • Poop Scooper and Facility Technician
  • Geneticist
  • Social Media Marketer
  • Puppy Socializer
  • Customer Service
  • Bookkeeper
  • Contract Manager
  • Sales Representative
  • Web Designer
  • Content Writer
  • Email Marketer
  • Groomer

Okay, I know there’s more, but you get the idea.

There are a lot of hats to wear. It completely makes sense that we want to delegate things, pass off some of this responsibility, take a little load off your plate. I’m with you. The thing is some things you can delegate and some things you can’t. Today’s episode is all about helping you figure out what you should delegate and what you should do yourself.

Focus on Your Area of Genius

For the majority of breeders, both the ones just starting out and ones who have been doing it a while, it’s unrealistic to hire a large team of people to help you. It just doesn’t jive with numbers. Help can be fairly expensive. However, for most breeders, it is realistic to hire some part-time help for the things that aren’t in your area of genius.

What is your area of genius? Well, it varies. There are no hard and fast rules, but essentially there are going to be things you gravitate to that you’re good at. Maybe you’re really good at taking care of the dogs, getting them good meals, keeping them healthy, socializing puppies. Maybe you really like working with buyers, always enjoying talking with them or sending them long emails. Maybe you are great at keeping your website up to date or taking pictures. These things, if they’re in your area of genius, will be easy for you. They’ll feel easy and simple and you’ll find yourself not struggling to do them.

Everyone has their own area of genius

Another good indicator that they are your area of genius is when you realize you’re doing them as a sort of productive procrastination. For me, I would much rather work on my website than I would clean puppy pens. I find cleaning puppy pens irritating. I always want to shower afterwards and that makes this something I really need to plan into my day. It’ll need to come after I workout and before I shower, but before I do anything with the adult dogs, so there’s less chance to spread any disease. It’s a pain in the butt for me. I often find that I delay doing it and will spend that time doing website design or texting a buyer. This is how I can definitely say cleaning is not my area of genius. I’m much better with writing and web design.

Many of you will probably be rolling your eyes at me, thinking, “Well, duh, Julie, no one enjoys cleaning puppy pens.” Yet, Bill is a good example. If I asked him to update my website, I think he would start getting hives. For him, cleaning puppy pens is easy, quick, and simple, no thinking involved. He is great at that systematic tackling of routine tasks. Frankly, I’m not that great at that sort of thing. Bill finds lots of satisfaction in pressure washing, sort of like a meditation for him. But for me, I have to entice myself with listening to a book or podcast to get the drive to do that.

It makes sense that you can use how you feel about a task to sort out if it’s an area of genius or not. It makes complete sense to want to delegate the things that are outside of your area of genius. It’ll allow you to do more of what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and less of what you don’t enjoy, and are probably less proficient at.

You can’t delegate what you don’t know how to do

I wish I could stop the podcast right here and say, “Just do what you love and delegate the rest!” But that would be remiss. The truth is you can’t delegate what you don’t know how to do. That’s the ugly truth. You have to have a system or plan to explain to the person you hire. Time and time again I see breeders try to outsource help and then it doesn’t work. It costs them good money and they didn’t get the benefit they hoped to gain.

The Importance of Guidelines

I’ll give you some personal examples. I once hired a girl to help me with the dogs every week. She would come out for a few hours and “help me.” I didn’t make her a list of things. I expected she would sort of know what to do, how to help clean; but most of the time I was doing the cleaning and she was playing with dogs or puppies. I was paying her so that I could work! It made no sense. Now, in my defense, she didn’t know how to use a pressure washer and didn’t arrive in clothes ready to get dirty. She also had a poor work ethic. BUT my failure in the whole thing was that I didn’t give her guidelines. I didn’t have a system to show her. I didn’t tell her what ‘done’ looked like.

Fast forward a year later. I had been cleaning my kennels on my own and was realizing that it was driving me crazy to do it, eating up a lot of time. I decided to offer the job to one of our construction workers. I knew him, knew he had good work ethic, was strong, and was good at pressure washing. I told him I needed my kennels cleaned every week, that I usually was meeting with customers on Saturday or Sunday, so the kennels needed to be cleaned by Friday night. He could come Thursday or Friday, on his own schedule, but Wednesday was too early in the week and the kennels wouldn’t look clean over the weekend.

I showed him how I pressure washed, how I cleaned the buckets, and what needed to be done. I gave him a price of what I’d pay, which was more than hourly wage, that it was to be paid by the job, allowing him to strive for efficiency so that he was getting paid a higher rate for his time.

That was it. It was simple. He cleaned my kennels like that for 18 months, coming out weekly, letting me know if he wasn’t available so I could make arrangements to do it myself. He did a good job and it was great to have it off my plate.

Yes, he was a better pick for a hired hand, but, in reflection, it worked because I gave him a plan, a process, and an end goal. He knew what was expected and where he had flexibility.

Make Social Media Easier with Breeder Copy Hub

Once You Know What You Need, You Can Find the Right Fit

Here’s another example: after a few months working on the podcast, a virtual assistant contacted me. She wanted to help me with my online business in some capacity. I worked with her. We tried to figure out what she could help me with. We ended up figuring out social media was best. She would schedule my posts for me, something that was difficult for me to get out. However, it ended up being more money than I felt was helping me. It became more stressful to pay her than to do the social media myself. After all, I was already writing the captions, I had to take the pictures, and then send them to her. Essentially, I was already doing all the work. She wasn’t saving me much time.

I remember working with her thinking, “Gosh, I really need to figure out what I want so I can tell her what I need, but I don’t know what I need.” We ended up canceling our working agreement after two months because it wasn’t helping me and I was frustrated. It was ultimately not a good fit. But it was also my failure. I didn’t have the system I was using to teach her, let alone a system to get done the things I needed to get done for her to work with.

About eight months later, I realized I was struggling. There were many times when the podcast would get written, recorded, and posted, but I was behind in getting the podcast episode up on my website. It was particularly bad when I had a freebie mentioned in the podcast, but I didn’t have it ready to go in a nice pdf download.

I realized I needed someone who was able to use my website software, upload the podcast episode, embed the podcast player, and then adjust the formatting for the freebies, making a great pdf. She also would need to help me use ConvertKit to deliver these freebies.

I asked a good friend of mine, who was familiar with online business and the tools I used, if she would consider helping me part-time. It was the perfect fit. Her areas of genius were opposite mine, and together we made a great team. Not only was she able to make the freebies more organized, user-friendly, and, of course, pretty, but she was better at setting up things inside ConvertKit, the email service provider I used.

It worked because I knew what I needed, and, because I had done it myself, I knew how long it would take and how it needed to be done. I was able to come to her with the outline of what I would need help with each week, and what I was willing to pay for that time.

Because of her area of genius, she was able to execute it with ease, and better than I was able to. In the beginning she had a lot of questions. This was great. She was articulating the process, and it worked because I knew what needed to be done, so I had the answers. When I wasn’t sure, or there was a decision to make, she would chime in with her thoughts, which was beyond beneficial. All the back-end inner workings, which I often struggle with, she was great at manipulating to do what we needed them to do.

It all worked because I already had the process, but knew where I struggled. I found someone who was great at those things I was bad at, and gave her my system, with the opportunity for her to tweak it to make it easier for her or better in general, and we had already agreed on what the end product should be.

Successfully getting help for your dog breeding business

Many breeders I talk to struggle with the same sort of issues. They hire someone to get an overwhelming task off their plate, but they don’t have a way to delegate the task because they don’t know how to do it themselves. If you don’t have a system that you’re able to share when delegating a task, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to successfully delegate that task. Sure, hiring someone who has a skill in the area you need will be greatly beneficial, but it is unlikely that they’ll simply be able to take over a task because you hired them.

Many people hire someone to help them clean, but they don’t have a checklist of things that need to be done, nor do they have the plan to teach the hired help how to use the tools, what process to do. This is usually because we haven’t sat down and created the system ourselves. You have to make an SOP, a standard operating procedure, for help to know what to do! It’s essential.

Streamlining your social media

Another example is social media. I know so many breeders who cite social media as the most stressful part of their marketing. Many tell me they want to outsource that part of their breeding program. Yet, most have not thought it through. They don’t play it all out in their head, probably because they don’t yet have the system for themselves. You can’t just hire someone to write captions for your program without them knowing your dogs or your ideal puppy buyer. You’ll still need to help them with the captions so they market to your people. You’ll need to provide them with the pictures.

Because social media is the number one pain point that breeders talk to me about, I wanted to find a solution that made your life easier, helped you build the system so you could do it yourself easier, or have a better way to delegate to part-time help. With you in mind, my team and I created Breeder Copy Hub.

Breeder Copy Hub delivers 25 social media caption templates and 5 email templates, all written in a mad-libs style. We structure the posts for engagement, so your audience will interact with your post allowing your feed to do better in the algorithm. We give you ideas on a visual to go with your post, making your planning easier. The email templates give you a way to communicate updates in your breeding program to your warm buyers.

We wanted to give you a system that was easy to use and implement, that would save you time, would be much better priced than hiring someone, and would make the things you’d have to do, like write the captions to speak to your ideal puppy buyer and make the pictures you’d collect easier to tackle.

We also created a quick bonus each month to help you tackle other parts of your marketing, such as dialing in your hashtags for better visibility.

One breeder who uses the Breeder Copy Hub suggested that she loved how she could sit down for a few minutes and quickly choose to work through three of them on her lunch break at work. She said it took the thinking out of it, making it something she could work on a little bit each day.

The best part about Breeder Copy Hub? It’s offered as a standalone product, with new templates emailed to you each month, but it’s also a bonus of being a member of the Dog Breeder Society.

My hope is you can stop delaying posting on social media because it’s overwhelming, and instead have a way to post meaningful posts that speak to your buyers specifically each month.

Learn more about Breeder Copy Hub and the Dog Breeder Society.

Setting Yourself & the People You Delegate To Up for Success

So that’s my advice. I recommend you look at all the hats you wear as a dog breeder. Decipher what are your areas of genius and what aren’t. Figure out a plan and a system, ideally an SOP, standard operating procedure, for the things you want to hire out. Then find someone for whom these things fall under their area of genius. Plan a little extra time to help them when they are new, and you’ll be successful.

Remember, until you have a system, you can’t delegate the task. It just doesn’t work. No matter what, we will have to deal with it in some way or another. So take the time, engage with the dragon of the yuck tasks you don’t enjoy, and build the system. Hire it out and you’ll be good!

I hope you get a chance to check out the Breeder Copy Hub and I can’t wait to see you in the next episode!

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Hey! I’m Julie Swan! I’m here to help you build a breeding business that you love, one that produces amazing dogs, places them in wonderful homes, gives you the life you want, also pays the bills!